The new rules as golf provides a sanctuary

Sweeping new local rules are allowing golf to continue providing an outlet for relaxation during the coronavirus pandemic.

26-Mar-2020 By Evin Priest, Australian Associated Press
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No flagsticks, lids on the hole, no rakes in bunkers, only one person per buggy and mark your own scorecard.

These are new local rules which are allowing golf - for now - to remain one of the last sports able to provide a few hours of open-air sanctuary from the coronavirus worries affecting the world.

Just last year it was considered a big deal when golf's rule makers allowed players to leave the flagstick in the hole when putting to speed up play.

Now the Royal and Ancient Golf Club in Scotland has gone much further with unprecedented new local rule options to help ensure the game can provide much-needed relaxation in a time of crisis.

Golf Australia has communicated the local rule options to the nation's 1500 golf clubs and is in daily contact with Federal Minister for Sport Richard Colbeck's office to interpret changing government regulations.

Golf Australia acting chief executive Rob Armour says the mental health benefits of the sport are an inspiration to keep courses open and GA is publishing daily updates for clubs on its website.

"Golf is a fantastic way for Australians to get out and exercise and keep their minds active during a tough time for this country and the game can be played within the regulations the government has implemented to curb the virus." he said.

"Our priority right now is to provide clarity on the government announcements for clubs to help them operate within those parameters and advise clubs on additional precautions they can take."

There are significant changes to ensure safety.

Golf clubhouses have been shut and social distancing rules mean golfers must remain 1.5 metres apart.

Clubs including Sydney's inner-city Moore Park - one of the busiest in the country - have also suspended rental of carts and hire clubs.

With no rakes in bunkers, preferred lies can now be taken within bunkers or they can be treated as ground under repair.

"We are working tirelessly with governments working to promote golf and the benefits of the game in terms of mental health through this period of social distancing," Armour said.

"Golf is unique in that it is able to continue where most sports have shut down.

"Our goal is to provide a healthy environment but we also want to show golf is a safe way for people to engage and exercise in the open air."


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